Author: Myanna Wedes
The hat trick of success is now in the hands of Ducati. The Borgo Panigale manufacturer has won the 2022 Constructors' Title, the Teams' Title with the Ducati Lenovo Team, and the Riders' Title in the premiere class of MotoGP. It was not a smooth sailing race for Pecco Bagnaia who is probably still celebrating and preparing for the new upcoming testing schedule as the 2023 season starts almost immediately before a long winter break where the reality of becoming a World Champion will finally sink in. It has been just over 50 years since an Italian rider has won an Italian bike and the first Ducati title since Casey Stoner in 2007. Giacomo Agostini in 1972 won the title in the 500cc category with the MV Agusta and now Bagnaia’s name is etched into the history books.
The battle between Fabio Quartararo and Bagnaia did take place throughout the race at Valencia although it was a long shot for the Yamaha rider to win. With that said, losing a front winglet and downforce, Bagnaia fought to stay upright whilst Quartararo rode his heart out, just finishing short and probably thinking over the last few races on what could have been a different storyline. The comeback by Bagnaia was both through the teamwork of Ducati and the errors made by Yamaha and Quartararo. The two go hand in hand and this time the red beast outfit prevailed and was able to stand on the top step as World Champions. The hard work has paid off for the Italian factory, and this sets up 2023 to be an epic season with so many changes, new bike developments and the hunger from those who had one hand on the trophy and failed to achieve their goals at an all-time high. With the happy times, we also go through the sad times saying goodbye to Suzuki Team Ecstar after such a wonderful number of years proving themselves in the sport and funnily enough Alex Rins winning the final race of the season. What a picture-perfect way to give back to his team and to recognise the hard work put in over the years. One of the ultimate bike packages is departing from the grid and a new chapter starts for both Suzuki riders with Rins going to LCR Honda and Joan Mir to Repsol Honda. The upcoming testing will be the first time we see the riders change teams and with that certain personnel updates as well including the following:
- Cristhian Pupulin going from Ducati to KTM with Jack Miller.
- Massimo Branchini working once again with Johann Zarco after their Ajo Motorsport days.
- Alberto Giribuola no longer working with Enea Bastianini and also joining the KTM factory to work with Brad Binder and the rest of the crew.
As we know in the past, there are always crew changes, however, it will be interesting to see how these new relationships grow and what impact they will have on the World Championship for 2023 with a few sure to be on the radar of winning. Now, it is time to hear from the newly crowned World Champion with his new tag line #PerfectComb1nation.
Pecco Bagnaia #63:
"We have to be really happy and proud of the incredible work we did. After Germany, we found ourselves 91 points off the top, but we found the right motivation to come back and win the title in Valencia. Together we showed that we are really strong and can handle even complicated situations. Today's race was also really difficult because after the contact with Fabio, I lost a wing of my bike, and from there on, I struggled a lot, but I am really proud and happy with the result. I also want to congratulate Fabio, who has been an incredible opponent throughout the season. To win coming in front of a rider you respect, as I respect Fabio, gives even more value to this title."
Luigi Dall'Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse):
"This World Championship is an immense satisfaction for the entire Ducati Lenovo Team and for me. It is a title that this team and our brand deserve, which comes from the commitment and expertise of really good people and technicians, added to the incredible talent and maturity of Pecco. Today's day repays us for all the work we have done. Now that we have reached the top of the world, the next step is to stay there".
The ride of the day goes to French rider Quartararo who was sensational. He pushed, put his bike and body on the line and never stopped until he crossed the line. It was a true display of his courage when every employee of Yamaha was watching on hoping for a miracle to happen. If anything, Quartararo should be very proud of his season and utilise the negative results as a positive to come back stronger with the goal to achieve another World Championship. With the reduced number of Yamaha bikes, the expectations are going to be high for the riders under this brand to perform. We anticipate that Quartararo will be on top of his mental strength and mindset in order to overcome any challenges that may arise both with the bike, his performance and on-track psychological games with fellow riders.
Fabio Quartararo #20:
“It was a tough race, especially for the left side of the tyre, but I gave my 100%. It was not enough to fight for the podium or the victory. It was hotter today than it was the previous days, and the left side of my front tyre went completely soft. That was the point where I lost the race. I'm a bit disappointed, but congratulations to Pecco for winning the title. Now I just can't wait to try our new bike. But first we have to celebrate tonight. Then at Tuesday we have that very important test for 2023, and of course I'm really motivated because it concerns our future bike.”
In this sport, the best way to finish a season is to win and that is exactly what Rins did for Team Suzuki Ecstar who hung up their spanners, tools, leathers, and team kit after what has been a sensational adventure within the sport of MotoGP. They have a World Championship to their name with Mir and multiple race wins including classy victories by Rins in 2022. The bike that was always smooth has finally exited the sport and we thank the team for their dedication, kindness, and politeness over the years. There will be some Suzuki staff remain in the paddock with roles and others return home with a new work life direction. Here is cheers to a wonderful manufacturer.
Alex Rins #42:
“Well, I managed to achieve exactly what I wanted: another win with my team. This one, being at home and being our last together tastes extra special and it’s very emotional. Over the years Suzuki and I have celebrated some really beautiful victories, but also shared many beautiful moments as a family. I’ll miss everybody so much, and I’ll carry the lessons with me for the rest of my career.”
As we say goodbye to the 2022 season, both Jack Miller and Marc Marquez certainly had seasons to remember for many reasons:
- Miller with finding a way to ride the Ducati to victory and podium finishes after struggling for a whole season.
- Marquez returning to the sport and testing his physical limits to be surprised by the effectiveness of the surgery undertaken.
- Miller signing with KTM yet being able to ride his Ducati to its full potential.
- Miller achieving team Championships with Ducati and adhering to teamwork.
- Marquez securing finishes on the front row in a race and qualifying with far better performance than expected. His role in refining the Honda in full swing.
- Marquez understanding the Repsol Honda MotoGP machine with a new chassis supplier with Kalex providing a new set up. His team being aware of the need to update and listen to the changes required to further advance their package.
- Both riders hungrier than ever for the World Championship crown as they can see the ability to win in front of them and knowing in their own selves how to secure points tallying up to a grand total.
Jack Miller #43:
"I'm really sorry about the crash today. I was pushing hard because I knew Aleix didn't finish the race, and 25 points would put me ahead of him in the standings, which that was my goal. Unfortunately, the start didn't go exactly as I expected, and it was really hard to overtake today, except by taking advantage of other people's mistakes. However, I am very happy for Pecco, who has had an extraordinary year, never giving up and proving to everyone that he is the best. My last race with Ducati brings with it some sadness because, with this team, I had a great time and built fantastic relationships with all the people in the team, but now I will focus on my near future."
Marc Marquez #93:
“Overall, looking at the big picture, I am happy with the weekend because we showed that the level is there, the rhythm is there, the feeling is there. I understand how I need to be fast and I was happy, but today wasn’t the day. Yesterday I said the target was the podium but from the start I didn’t feel right. I saw that the podium was leaving so I went all or nothing. The speed was there and we know what the issue was today in the race. I am going to work hard this winter to be as prepared and as ready as possible but work begins even sooner on Tuesday. I am looking forward to trying Honda’s first step of 2023.”
With the rivalries refreshed, we expect to see a red hot one between Bagnaia and Bastianini. We noted that “The Beast” assisted towards the end of the season rather than pushing his fellow Ducati rider to the limit. The third-place finish in the title was sweet for the young rider considering how hard Aprilia fought with Aleix Espargaro to conquer their fears and achieve new milestones. However, it was the consistency of the Ducati and Bastianini that allowed them to achieve success with first and third in the rider’s title. Now that the gloves are off and Bagnaia is Champion, this means the 2023 season is free for them to race and achieve success once again. The questions will be:
- Is the 2023 Ducati machine better than the current spec?
- Will Bastianini be smooth with the change in machine considering his adaptiveness to the Gresini Ducati bike?
- Will Bagnaia put into force team orders to ensure he leads and “The Beast” must follow now that he is number one?
- How does Ducati manage two fiery Italian riders with a bike that is performing? Who calls the shots?
Enea Bastianini #23:
“It was a difficult race and I only at the end I got to know Aleix had retired. We did a good job, especially after a disastrous Saturday. I’m happy with this third place and the best independent rider title. I think it has been a great season and I’d like Team Gresini for supporting me in every moment. This season result also goes to Fausto.”
With a memorable season closing its curtains, it will be a clean slate for Aprilia who failed to achieve their final goal of top three in the title, though they had an incredible season. With that said, A Espargaro lost third in the title race and ended up watching from the seated chairs, a rival be handled a medal which would hurt the soul of the Spanish rider. The team are hard workers, and they had this goal within reach, so to lose out is a very hard loss to handle both emotionally and professionally. We believe they have the machinery to power forward. It was the lack of reliability and technical glitches that let them down including:
- Holeshot device getting stuck and not engaging properly.
- Eco-Map problem on the grid during Japan.
- Engine problems.
- Lack of consistency with the bike performance and tyres.
There is no doubt that A Espargaro is very proud of his Aprilia team and the fact that they proved themselves to the doubters. However, the failure to finish in the top three hurts deeply and will be a motivating factor for the new season when it starts. They have their goals and two riders who are more than capable of finding ways to secure top results.
Aleix Espargaro #41:
“Battling for third place was a dream for me, something historic, especially with the current level of the championship. I think it would have been possible but unfortunately, a technical problem forced me to withdraw. It’s a pity after the season we had. I gave it my all from the first to the last race and I have no regrets. That’s racing – things don’t always go the way you expect them to. Now we need to continue working because next season represents a new opportunity to do well.”
Maverick Vinales #12:
“What happened is a real pity. We had the pace and rhythm to battle for the very top positions but I had a problem with the front of the bike and my race ended there. We’ve done a lot this season but we need to improve. I had problems in the early stages of the season finding the right settings and then again in the finale. We need to work hard and learn from this season.”
Massimo Rivola – Aprilia Racing CEO:
“We are angry and disappointed. Evaluating our season, we should look at the glass as half full, but it’s hard for me to do that today. We had goals that were within our potential and deserved, such as third place for Aleix and second in the Constructors and Teams standings. Extraordinary results that would have been the just rewards for the hard work done by all of Aprilia Racing but evidently we are still not accustomed to battling consistently for the highest objectives. In order to do that, we need to learn to always be perfect, on the track and in Noale. Our championship season is still important and represents an exceptional base of results from which to resume. The last race does not change the certainty that we made a huge step forward and we’ll be back in 2023 to try again with four bikes on the track and renewed ambitions. Now I’d like to congratulate Ducati and Bagnaia for their season and say goodbye to Suzuki, in the hopes that we’ll see them again in the future.”
As we turn the page, we look forward to bringing you a testing report as to how the riders feel on their new machines and the insight as to who feels comfortable and who is finding the transition harder than expected. Testing is underway in Valencia!Protect your Motorcycle. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.